LEWISTON — The former St. Patrick’s Church no longer has its bell.

Workers removed the massive, 128-year-old bronze bell from the church bell tower Friday morning, inching it along a platform before connecting it to a crane and lowering it to a waiting flatbed truck.

On the ground, a section of Bates Street was shut down and passersby stopped to snap photos with cellphones or point out the bell, its platform suspended in midair, to their young children. 

The bell, made by the McShane Bell Foundry in 1887, has been sold to a private group in Arkansas.

St. Patrick’s Church was closed and put up for sale by Maine’s Roman Catholic Diocese in 2009. Real estate developer Andrew Knight bought the church and its rectory in 2014. He is now converting the property into an events center and inn.

Knight said he made the deal for the bell’s sale in February or March, when he needed the money.

“I was just about out of cash, so I had to sell everything I could to pay the property taxes, the utilities, that sort of thing,” he said. “Then, of course, I got funding two weeks ago. Maybe I wouldn’t have sold it under those conditions, but at that point, I’d already contracted with them.”

Knight did not say how much the bell sold for, but he said the bell contains 5,400 pounds of bronze and that much metal would likely fetch $7,000 or $8,000 as scrap. 

“Of course it won’t be scrapped, so you can imagine that . . . cleaned up, the market value might be triple that,” Knight said.

The bell has been sold to Cowie Wine Cellars and Vineyards in Paris, Ark., which runs a wine museum and lists bells for sale on its website.

Workers spent much of Friday morning disconnecting the bell from the 150-foot tower. Once they were ready to move it, it took an hour to inch the bell forward on castors and secure it to a platform, then lower the whole thing to a flatbed truck. 

On the truck, the bell weighed in at 7,000 pounds.

Before it was taken away, Knight and his inn manager, Jan Barrett, decided to ring the bell one last time in Lewiston. Knight swung the heavy clapper, and the deep toll resounded.  

“Bye-bye, bell,” Barrett said.

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